I wrote this post originally in July. Check out the added information since it posted too :)
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As a writer, we hang out with lots of writers. While writers like to write, there is also another common love that groups us together, that of being readers. We hear all the time that good writers are good readers. We jump around blogs, celebrating the new books that are coming out, talking about what we just read, staying up late because we just had to finish the book.
But I think we have another job as well. We have the job of helping people be readers.
Think about it. Reading in the nation has dropped and if people don't read, why are they going to care that we write? Sure, it sometimes ends up with funny things like the examples in this article, except that after the laughter has died down, it's really not that funny.
It's funny that the child of an English teacher would have a hard time reading, but let me share a bit of a trend I have seen, especially with boy readers. If boys like fantasy stories, they seem to read quite a bit. There is a great selection of middle grade and young adult books to help them stay interested. Just walk through a library and look at the covers - dragons everywhere!
But the other kind of boy reader seems to be increasingly prevalent - the one who doesn't want fantasy. We have had some success with Super Fudge type books, Holes went over pretty well, but when it comes right down to it, there aren't tons of boy middle grade non-fantasy books out there. These readers tend to drift to the non-fiction (enter titles that involve most disgusting). If you have a reader like this, let me share a huge discovery that has changed our lives here - find the book AND the audiobook to let Junior try at the same time. Many of these kids don't have the understanding of how words sound to enjoy the book.
Hubby has been a reluctant reader our whole marriage - people were trying to push fiction on him. He just doesn't want to read fiction. So? Working together, we have found two books he has enjoyed reading in the last two months. While many of us are fiction writers, we have to remember these aren't the only books out there.
But even beyond the reluctant reader, we know writers have a great natural desire to pay it forward. We read lots and even if it is just in the genre we are writing, I don't think it would be ridiculous when, in a library or a book store, if we see someone looking at a book, start a conversation with that person (Oh, I loved that book or This one is really good too if you liked that).
I know some of us tend to be shy or introverted, but think of the bigger picture. Get beyond book sales and money and think, really think for a moment, about a world without books. Don't you think it's worth the few minutes of discomfort to know that there is a chance someone may find a book they enjoy.
Have you helped someone find a book before? Did you experience a time when either you or a loved one didn't think reading was for them? Any other suggestions about how to get people excited about reading again?
Bonus information - My son was reading at a 4.2 reading level at the end of his 5th grade year. When the same assessment was given at the beginning of his 6th grade year, it came back as an 8.3. My son’s reading level went up FOUR grade levels in the months over summer because of reading books with audiobooks.